If you hoped to get $125 from the Equifax breach settlement – rather than signing up for free credit monitoring – expect to get a much smaller check.
The response to the settlement “has been overwhelming” since it was announced last week, according to the settlement website at the Federal Trade Commission. So much so that consumers will get “nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed,” the site says under the FAQs.
An allotment of $31 million was slated to reimburse victims of the massive data breach in 2017 and those who signed up for a credit monitoring service in response. About 147 million Americans were affected by the breach.
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The alternative is to take the guaranteed free credit monitoring at the three main bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – for up to 10 years, plus $1 million in identity theft insurance. The site says the market value of these services is hundreds of dollars a year.
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You can still choose the $125 cash option on your claim form, but the site warns that you will be “disappointed with the amount you receive and you won’t get the free credit monitoring.”
Those who have already filed a claim will get an email that will allow them to switch from the cash option to the free credit monitoring.
Other options from Equifax settlement
Starting next year, all Americans will be entitled to six free Equifax credit reports each year for seven years. This can help you to monitor for any illegal activity. All U.S. consumers are entitled to get free identity theft recovery services for the next seven years.
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If you spent time or money dealing with an ID theft issue that occurred after the breach and involved personal data that was exposed by the hack, you can recoup those costs up to $20,000 per person. You can be reimbursed for the following:
- Losses from unauthorized charges on your accounts
- Cost of freezing or unfreezing your credit report
- Cost of credit monitoring
- Fees you paid to professionals such as an accountant or attorney
- Other expenses such as notary fees, document shipping fees and postage, mileage and phone charges
You’re eligible to get $25 per hour for time spent dealing with the breach’s aftermath, up to 20 hours. For the first 10 hours, you need to certify that you spent this time. For the additional 10 hours, you may need to provide documentation.
Americans have until Jan. 22, 2020, to file a claim in the settlement.